I love Valentines Day. Sorry, I do not have a cynical bone in my body on February 14th. I love the colors, (Red? Pink? black? Butterscotch cream? Mmmmm....) the chocolate, the heart-shaped bottles of sherry, the crazy roller coaster of expectations and denouements, the trite terrible tropes and cliches, and most of all I love the opportunity to spend all day in the studio making a Valentine for a special person in my life.
I hadn't sat down to do a true painted painting in a long long time. I started with collage, destroyed it, ripped it, scraped it, painted it over, did a carefully designed Victorian piece, decided it was too safe, brushed it out, took a disk sander to it, pulled out brushes and started all over.....just like love: Bruised, scraped, frustrating, delirious, happy, sad, happy again. Here's to the whole package. Put your heart on your sleeve and go for it.
I am loving the creative community on Instagram and enjoying posting there each week. So much inspiration, so many incredible ways to approach typography and lettering, from all over the world. Here is some classic calligraphy from a book cover, which I was inspired to reformat for the Instagram square. Thinking of brocade drawing rooms, where women in lavish skirts might lean against the wall with a glass of sherry and a plate of figs and watercress, demurely reading Balzac.
Not a font. Not a free bundle 'o fonts. 'Cause human. Thinking with ink.
Three looks here at a little fragment of wisdom from a book I read that wasn't a self-help book but a collection of stories. This ladder could be your career, or your love life. The missing rung could be a missed opportunity, or a missed deadline, or a missed letter from someone you love. It could be a missing bit of faith in something greater, or a missing parent, or even the bus on the way to a job interview. And about the ladder? –– who's holding it anyway? I like quotes that give you some room to imagine.
When I find an inspirational quote that I like I can't do just one version. I have to try a quite a few, and see how the voices sound. Freestyle brush writing is one of the hardest styles, because there is no manual that will tell you just exactly how it should look. It's art: it's abstract, dark and light and how things interlock. And most important, do you hear a voice coming through? Nothing tricky here, no ten different styles in one piece or illustrations or drop shadows, just the words offering a bit of quiet encouragement in the day.
Ingredients: One book, "God's Gym," by John Edgar Wideman. One Brush, one ink, three papers, and a full wastebasket.
(Yes, the first line of this quote really was about love, isn't nearly everything? This is love month after all. The wording is not a typo, it was written that way.)
Brush Script interpretations of inspirational text, lettering by Iskra Design. See attribution above.
Sometimes a project comes along that allows me to blend my fine art background in printmaking with graphic design. The cover illustration for GIA Reader was a wonderful opportunity to mix it up between media. The brief was very open: use the numerals 25, to indicate the 25th year celebration of the organization. Make it beautiful and make it art. (Please, more art directors like Tommer Peterson!) When you have a wholistic and adventurous thinker/creater as your partner in crime it makes for great synergy.
My inspiration was immediate: finally a chance to use my life-long love of parkinglot floors as art. Few things are more beautiful than distressed concrete. And all the numbers you could need are ready to be found, right there under the oilspots and strange flourescent shadows of level B in that very particular random garage (the location of which shall remain undisclosed.... ). Although I am usually asked to do hand-lettering and calligraphy I felt that found forms and collage would be much more in keeping with the language of contemporary arts. The fine art I show in galleries is about transforming the ordinary, the industrial detritus and empty lots and unkempt moments of nature that one might not immediately recognize as beautiful. In this typographic cover illustration I could blend a graphic design sensibility with my artistic vision.
In the studies for this project I kept in mind the aesthetic and processes of printmaking. Photoshop is our contemporary version of the printing press. Each layer can function as a 'plate' and one can wipe and burn and layer as though using zinc. Thinking this way leads to different ways of putting things together, and a final product that contains some mystery and tactile magic that might not emerge from typical digital design processes. Here are some of the many directions and variations I tested out, all using original photography and digital collage. I've added my notes on what I thought was successful or not.
The last three directions above seemed to have the best wabi-sabi going on, but what was missing was the sense of the relationship of the numerals in time. The final collage layered the letters themselves more directly, leaving ambiguity between past and present as an integral part of the visual subtext.
Awhile back I did some handwriting explorations based on personal ads. I have recently revisited the idea with a new approach, seeing how photographic story telling can be added into the mix. Here are a few of the recent mini-stories. Each one uses a different kind of pen and is composed from my photographic backgrounds.
Unlike fonts, hand lettered scripts have an authentic quirkiness and variation. As a handwriting artist I channel voices. Each personality calls forth a different way of holding the pen and putting down thought. I love the theater of it -- I get to put on a new costume each time! I will post more of these personal ads soon--one is actually real, and the rest are conplete fiction.
See my handwriting campaigns for clients, including Chase Ink, Permobil and others at Iskra Design.
Details on this project soon, but I couldn't resist posting these shots of work in progress. Watching ink dry as it sinks into paper is one of those rare occupational perks of being a calligrapher. The scent is heavenly on plush white rag Fabriano. Calligrapher's perfume....
Here is a new book cover for The Hidden Man demonstrating the use of historical hand-lettered script. I did this with a pointed metal nib and ink on charcoal paper.
In the last few months after one of my portfolio pages was posted on Pinterest I have been getting a lot of calls and emails asking for my "free fonts." Just a reminder: this is unique work, done by hand. When you commission a lettering designer or calligrapher for a project you can rest assured that you are not getting a font that everyone else in the world is using in their projects. Below are a couple of the other versions done for presentation with notes on the process.
Double letters are always tricky, and d's especially. How to make the most of them, yet remain legible? These are two of the more complex variations for a double d.
Subtle refinements, experimenting with different ways of treating the H to balance the loops on the d's, other quirks of handwriting, and how to work with the negative space beetween lines.
This was actually my favorite version. It is done with a transitional pen that gives a little more weight overall. The trade-off is that it is less intimate, and loses some of the handwriting character of finer writing. The loops were also a problem for the legibility at a distance and the character that the title typogrpahy needed to express.
A collection of lettering design and calligraphy inspired by the colors of spring. Some of these examples are done for clients and some are personal explorations of lettering styles and watercolor. All work is created by hand with brush and pen, with watercolor or ink.
All work is copyright of Iskra Design and may not be used or reproduced without the express permission of the artist. To see more lettering design and expressive lettering please visit Iskra Design.